Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Blurb:
Deep in his terrifying realm underground, the cold and forbidding Goblin King casts a dark shadow over nineteen-year-old Liesl. Her grandmother had always warned her to follow the old laws, for every year on the longest night of winter the Goblin King will emerge into the waking world in search of his eternal bride. Sensible and plain, Liesl knows it's her duty to keep her beautiful sister safe from harm, but she wishes only to indulge in her wild, captivating music, composed and played in secret in the Goblin King's honor.

When her beautiful sister Käthe is stolen by the Goblin King, Liesl knows she must set aside her childish fantasies to journey to the Underground and save her. Drawn despite herself to the strange, beautiful world she finds--and the mysterious man who rules it--she finds herself facing an impossible choice. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Set at the turn of the 19th century, when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music, S. Jae-Jones' richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman's search for self-actualization.

My Review: 
Nineteen-year-old Liesl has always set aside her wants and needs for the wants and needs of others, namely her younger siblings, Josef and Kathe. Liesl is a talented composer but since her father doesn't believe women are capable of being great composers and musicians she hides her talent behind her talented, virtuoso brother, Josef who takes her compositions and brings them to life on his violin. And Liesl has always deferred to her younger, prettier sister Kathe who is betrothed to Liesl's secret crush, Hans. 

Liesl has put off her own happiness for so long and completely forgotten about her stolen childhood moments in the Goblin Grove and the playmate she spent hours playing with there. But her playmate, the Goblin King, has not forgotten Liesl, nor has he forgotten the games and promises they once shared. 

When Liesl spots an elegant stranger in the market and then Kathe goes missing, her superstitious grandmother, Constanze tells her the only way to get her back is to travel to the Underground and rescue her from the Lord of Mischief himself, the Goblin King. It won't be an easy task but Liesl will persevere - not giving up until she finds herself in the Underground. But saving Kathe won't be as easy as striding in, grabbing her, and racing home. Will Liesl be able to break the Goblin King's hold on Kathe's mind and get her safely into the world above? Can she pass the tests the Goblin King sets before her? Or will Liesl have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister? 

The ultimate sacrifice - a life for a life. As Liesl selflessly gives herself up to the Goblin King and becomes his wife, his Goblin Queen, she believes it is the worst thing that has ever happened. But as she's about to learn, it may be the only way to finally free herself of the constraints she's place around herself. In the Underground she'll find love, passion, and above all - she'll find herself. But with her life slipping away, will she be able to enjoy her non-life to the fullest before it's too late? 

Wintersong is a truly beautiful novel. It's sexy, romantic, and shows the true love of a sister who would do anything for the siblings she loves. Alternately, the Goblin King is a broken, bitter creature that's afraid to allow himself to love until Liesl comes along and gives him hope. I think I was half in love with the Goblin King from the Overture at the beginning of the book and I loved watching he and Liesl (called Elisabeth later in the book) interact and fall in love. 

I thought all the mentions of music in the book to be well researched, leading me to believe the author is either an accomplished musician or composer or someone that really did a lot of great, in depth research on the topic of composing. I thought the storyline was beautiful and rich with mythology, reminding me heavily of the Persephone myth, with a slight variation. 

The only issues I had with the book were the sections that were written in German. I would have been so much more appreciative if there had either been a footnote, or a glossary at the end of the book, or even a translation in English after the word or phrase was uttered to explain what it meant. Also, there were a few grammatical errors that I felt got overlooked and I had to double check (since I got Wintersong from the library) that it was a finished copy and not just an ARC that hadn't gone through the final stage of editing. 

Overall, I loved this book and I think it will stick with me for quite a while. By the time I got to the end I was pretty much bawling and I hope there's going to be a sequel, because I'd really like a happy ending for Elisabeth and her Goblin King. I also felt that it left it open for book two because the Goblins and the Changelings want Josef after all... that can't go without some kind of plot in a sequel. 

My Rating:
4.5/5 Stars!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Book Mail" Thursday #13

This week's "Book Mail" Thursday is an extra special post filled with all kinds of bookish goodies...

OwlCrate's February Box "Run Away With the Circus" Unboxing
I've been wanting to try out OwlCrate, a YA book subscription box since last June when I first heard about it and when I guessed that February's box would include Caraval I knew I had to order it. I've heard great things about Caraval and I love all of the cute bookish items that came in this month's box.

This month's box included:
A tote bag designed by Evie Seo 
A candle from FrostBeard
A mini doughnut lip balm from Geek Fire Labs
A notepad from Attic Journals
Page flags from Girl of All Work

Like what you see & want to sign up for OwlCrate for yourself? Click here to sign up for March's box! 

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
I read an ARC of The Bone Witch last summer and I am so in love with the cover so I had to have a physical copy. I am so amazed that Barnes and Noble sent me my pre-ordered copy 2 weeks before the release date... not that I'm complaining! It's even more gorgeous in person! Look for my review of The Bone Witch on March 7th! Also, this picture shows off another piece of my mail this week, my Scream Funko! Isn't he cute? He reminds me more of Edvard Munch's The Scream painting instead of a vicious killer. 

*** 
Like I mentioned last week, I'm trying to limit my book buying to 1-2 books a month so now I'm waiting for March's OwlCrate Box - Themed "Sailors, Ships & Seas (which I think probably will include the book "Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller) and I'll probably order myself a copy of S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong, which I absolutely loved! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"What I'm Reading" Wednesday #63

I finally finished reading a book this month! Wintersong was fantastic & I'll share my review with you all this Friday but in the meantime, this "WIR"-Wednesday I'm starting...

Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross
Blurb:
All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

Why I Chose This Book / What I Think So Far:
I requested and received an eARC after reading the blurb and doing a cover reveal of Off the Ice last month. After reading Wintersong and stumbling through a few other books I tried to read this month I needed something a little lighter and Off the Ice seemed like just what I needed. I'm just starting it so I don't have any thing to share about what I think of it so far, so stay tuned for my review next Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cover Reveal: Bloodbound by Amalie Howard

This Tuesday I have a beautiful cover reveal to share with you and a teaser for Amalie Howard's upcoming Cruentus Curse Novella, BLOODBOUND! I've wanted to read the Bloodspell books for a long time, I've heard great things about them and this novella sounds amazing! 

So, who is ready for some gorgeous cover artwork? 

***



Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: March

Love or freedom…the choice is hers.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA, 1892. Lady Leandra Von Kurzberg is a hellion. Raised with seven older brothers, there is only one thing Lena fears: marriage. She has no desire to give up her freedom to be any lord’s broodmare.

When Lena meets the dangerously attractive Devereux twins, she is smitten. Inexplicably drawn to both men, the brothers are polar opposites—as much as Christian is every inch the debonair Duke of D’Avigny, his brother Lucian is a roguish scoundrel bent on hedonism.

But the captivating twins aren’t what they seem…

As frightening truths are unveiled and a one-of-a-kind offer is made, Lena will have to decide whether love is worth the loss of her freedom, or if freedom is worth the ultimate cost…her life.





     Lena bit her lip as Arabella shot her a naughty wink and ambled off to meet Fabian who had moved to the far side of the room. He handed his blades to the waiting footmen before receiving her. Lena stood, rooted to the spot as Lucian approached after greeting her brother. She half wished she wasn’t wearing a ratty pair of breeches that looked as if they’d been trampled by a herd of angry elephants. 
“Wagner said you would be down here,” Lucian said. “And Arabella who arrived at the same time offered to show me the way.” He paused, his eyes drifting closed for a scant second, a sublime look crossing his face. “You smell…delicious.”
Lena couldn’t help it—she laughed. “You do say the oddest things, my lord. And I assure you, I am as sweaty as a sheep on a hot summer day.”
“Do sheep get sweaty?” he asked without missing a beat. 
“One can imagine they would under all that wool.”
“I suppose,” he said and leaned in slightly as if to scent her. Her pulse soared and Lena fought the urge to move back a step, not because she was afraid, but out of some sudden desire for sheer self-preservation. While Christian had been reserved, she was certain that this brother did not hold himself to the same code. No, Lucian took. He was a man who sought pleasure wherever it was for the taking. It didn’t matter that her brother stood a few feet away, despite being distracted. “Sheep aside, your perfume is delightful.”
“Soap and sweat, my lord.” She expelled a shallow breath. “Nothing more.”
“The purest essence of woman.”
“Why are you here?” she asked, blushing. He made those five words sound like something dirty. She was grateful that Fabian and Arabella were both out of earshot.
Lucian bowed with a flourish. “Why, to prove myself, of course. And what better way than to allow a capable woman the chance to slit my throat.”
“You wish to die, Lord Devereux?”
An unfathomable expression crossed his face, but it was soon eclipsed by a brilliant smile. “Alas, my extraordinary skills preclude that very outcome.”
“Confident, are we?” Lena said and raised her blades. “You do realize that I could defeat you blindfolded.”
Lucian’s gray eyes widened. “Is that a challenge?”
“Only if you want it to be.”
Their clash of wills was interrupted by Fabian and Arabella who announced that they were going to take a stroll in the gardens. Lena rolled her eyes at the bright blush that covered Arabella’s cheeks. An evening stroll was just another way of saying that they were going to do what engaged couples did in secluded gardens. Kissing and whatnot. An unexpected spurt of envy curled through her. Perhaps Lord Devereux would also welcome such a stroll. She slid a glance to him, noting the dissolute turn of his mouth and revised her earlier desire. A stroll in the garden with this man would involve nothing less than complete and utter ruination.









AMALIE HOWARD grew up in Trinidad & Tobago where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees, and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks, and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie’s poem “The Candle,” written at age twelve, was published by the University of Warwick press. At fifteen, she was  a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Award (a global youth writing competition). A Colby College graduate, she completed dual Honors Theses in both French and International Studies, and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Colby, she was cited for her research contribution to Raffael Scheck’s article, “German Conservatism and Female Political Activism in the Early Weimar Republic,” and his subsequent book, Mothers of the Nation. She also received a distinction in English Literature from the University of Cambridge (A-levels) as well as a postgraduate certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, account executive, and global channel sales director for a Fortune 500 company.

She is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, SLJ, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national silver IPPY medalist and a silver Moonbeam award winner. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children.

Find Amalie Howard: WebsiteTwitterFacebook † Instagram






Amalie Howard is giving 4 lucky readers (U.S. & INT) a $5 Amazon Gift card. 



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Friday, February 17, 2017

My Top Ten Favorite YA Couples

I love YA novels and I've shipped many characters over the years; from the sweet first loves to the steamy, intense bonds of Upper YA relationships. At times I've seen potential between a couple that never happened - but I'm sure everyone has loved a 'ship' that never sailed - and celebrated when a couple that's been dancing around each other for an entire series finally gets together in time for the final book. And then there are the unexpected romances you didn't see coming. I've felt their triumphs and ridden the rollercoaster of betrayal and forgiveness right along with them and I love them all. 

Here are ten of my favorite YA Couples of all time...

1. Feyre & Rhysand from A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I fell for Rhysand in ACOTAR even though I was supposed to be excited for Feyre being with Tamlin but when they got together in ACOMAF... AHHH!... Just perfect! 

2. Reed Royal and Ella Harper from The Royals Series by Erin Watt

I was rooting for this relationship from their "I hate you" phase to the "I think I love you phase" to the "you broke me" phase and onward. This relationship faced a ton of obstacles but it was worth it in the end! 

3. Katy and Daemon from the Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Katy and Daemon's relationship was another hate you/love you relationship with an added complication... Daemon was an alien and Katy was a human, until she wasn't anymore. ;)

4.  Amy Goodnight and Ben McCulloch from Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Texas Gothic is a favorite of mine and again another I-loathe-you-but-I-kind-of-find-you-irresistible type of relationship between Ben and Amy. That seems to be a bit of a theme in the books I read. 

5.  Varen Nethers and Isobel from the Nevermore Trilogy by Kelly Creagh
Ahh... when the popular cheerleader falls for the goth guy who has a ton of problems. I think I like this relationship mainly for Varen (who I so love!) and because no matter hard Varen tries to push Isobel away she never stops fighting for him. I can definitely relate to that. 

6. Caspian and Abbey from the Hollow Trilogy by Jessica Verday

I loved these two as individual characters but together they were amazing. The revelations in this series (Caspian's secret then Abbey having to go away) were absolutely heart-wrenching and I was dying to find out how everything would turn out in book three. 

7. Rune Germaine and Etalon "Thorn" from RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

So, guy with horrible childhood is supposed to destroy the girl to please his "adoptive" father but ends up falling in love with her instead? Um, yes, please! 

8. Gavin and Delilah from The House by Christina Lauren

Another book where the girl has to save the guy she loves. Everything about this book and the characters falling in love is perfect. 

9. Chloe and Zeke from the Awakened Fate Series by Skye Malone

I love this series and saw the potential for Zeke and Chloe from book one. This was one of those series where you have to wait to see who the girl will choose until the end (although the series is still going on, just with a different main character) but it was so worth it! 

10. Shane Collins and Claire Danvers from the Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine
Have you ever read a book where two characters just fit so perfectly? I've always thought that was Shane and Claire. I loved watching their relationship take flight throughout the series in the midst of all the other drama going on in Morganville. 

***
Who are some of your favorite YA Couples?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Book Mail" Thursday #12

This week's "Book Mail" Thursday is a little less physical book mail and more ebook "mail."
Since Tuesday was Valentine's Day I decided to treat myself to the newly released...

Like A Memory by Abbi Glines and Unrest by Wendy Higgins


I knew I had to pick up an eBook copy of Like A Memory from the moment I heard it was coming out. Bliss York and Nate Finley are all grown up and it's finally time for their story as two of Abbi Glines's series merge in this Rosemary Beach-meets-Sea Breeze novel. I can't wait to read it! I also picked up a copy of Unrest, the second book in Wendy Higgins's NA trilogy, Unknown. I fell in love with the first book last month and I'm dying to see what's going to happen in book two. Will Rylen and Amber finally get together? What other obstacles are waiting for them? 

Waiting On:
I've been wanting to try out OwlCrate, a monthly YA subscription box, for a while now so I finally broke down and signed up for the February box - themed: "RUN AWAY WITH THE CIRCUS." I'm so excited to get my box and see what's inside. I think I already know which book is in the box but I want to see the goodies that come with it. 

***

From now on I'm trying to limit my book buying to one or two books a month. My addiction is getting way out of hand, so I think it's best that I read what I have or get books from the library. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"What I'm Reading" Wednesday #62

I have a confession to make: I've been in a serious book slump lately. Last month I breezed through ten books in 31 days, but so far this month I haven't finished reading a single book I've started. I was beginning to worry that it was something wrong with me - maybe I've been reading too much lately, maybe I'm just not giving "insert name of book here" enough of a chance. At least 2-3 books have already hit the DNF pile so far this month. And then this amazing book came along and changed everything...

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Blurb:
Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds―and the mysterious man who rules it―she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

Why I Chose This Book / What I Think So Far:
Wintersong was one of my most anticipated reads of this winter, so when I saw that I could put a hold on it through my local library I quickly did so. 

Have you ever read a book that when you started it you knew it would be an instant favorite? For me, Wintersong is one of those books. I fell in love with this story from the beginning and even though I'm just past a quarter into the book I'm already addicted. Will Liesl be able to rescue Kathe from the Goblin King without falling for him in the process? I'm dying to find out! The storytelling is wonderful and I don't want to put this book down. 

The only drawback I'm finding is the occasional random phrase in German. I'm having to use Google Translate just to understand some of it and if I could have offered a bit of advice, I like it when if an author uses a phrase or word in a foreign tongue they then explain what the word means in English. Or in the alternative, a footnote or end of the book glossary would be helpful.